As long as I remember, I’ve always enjoyed blogging and wanted to do it more. But unfortunately, it never happened. Recently, I came to realize that the high standards I had for the quality of my posts were possibly the most important reason not to write. Basically, I had always wanted a professional blog! By professional, I mean a blog which the author makes a living out it; and maybe some other people as well! And the effort I was willing to make was just a little bit more than tweeting!
So what’s changed now
Well, after I realized despite my strong desire to have a professional blog, deep down, I actually don’t want to do it, I totally abandoned the idea of producing content in any way (I don’t count tweeting as content producing). But after a while, the feelings to write crawled their way back in! And after some time of wondering what’s wrong with me, I saw what was obvious all the time but just not to me. I could write and not worry about the high standards of having a professional blog! That I could just write for fun.
And here I am starting an old thing with a new attitude. And thus began the question of “How should I do it?”. So I thought about this and did some google searches and put together some ideas to address the question I had.
Sharing the quests
For me, an essential part of running a professional blog is having goals and targeted readers. Whenever you write a new post, you’re trying to teach your readers something or draw the attention of a specific group of people to your blog or even protecting your SEO’s whatever ranking by just being active. But now that I don’t care about these goals and targeted readers, what should I write about? What do I want to write? I always have some kinds of quests defined for myself trying to achieve new things. It could be writing new software to implement an idea I had, or becoming more active on StackOverflow or maybe learning new technologies. I like to discuss these kinds of stuff with others who may share the interest with me.
Crafting a story
There are some ideas, skills, or things I’ve done, which are absolutely delightful to talk about, but there’s no start or end to it. There’s no quest or story attached to it. For instance, I’ve spent the last couple of years of my life learning, operating, and scaling Ceph clusters. I’d really enjoy discussing it with peers who have the same feeling, but I have no clue where to start? What to write about it? For this particular problem, I’ll try to craft a story from what I’ve got.
Using a specific experience
One way to put a story together is to think of an experience that has happened before and build stories upon that. An excellent example of this technique for me could be one of the many incidents I have managed and solved when operating a Ceph cluster.
- What happened?
- Why did it happen?
- What did I do?
- How did I solve it?
- What did I do to prevent it from happening again? These questions help a lot to form an enjoyable story.
Based on a made-up scenario
Sometimes there is some topic going on in my mind, which I don’t have experience with, or maybe I’ve forgotten the story of how I encountered this topic. Well, a simple solution is to recreate the experience and just use the above technique to get my story out of it. I probably could name many ideas which I could imagine and see what happens. Off the top of my head, “What if there were some sort of smart Kubernetes resources to manage and operate database migrations.”. This could potentially be a wonderful idea to write about and even the start of a new open source project.
Read, read and then read some more
This one has a passive effect on blogging, but it doesn’t mean the impact isn’t significant. Reading is the required input to the output you’re going to make. Reading lets you come up with new ideas. It makes connections between your already existing ideas. And not just books! Read other bloggers' opinions. All of this helps you to understand better what to write and how to write it. It calibrates the expectations of your blog’s quality.
Of course, this is not a one-time thing. It requires a consistent long-term habit to see the effect.
Combine and create
Despite all our efforts, there are many times in our life that we feel we don’t have any original idea! It’s frustrating not to be able to come up with a new topic to discuss. Creativity doesn’t have to mean to generate an idea that it comes from nowhere! Combining multiple ideas can sometimes lead to brilliant new ideas. For instance, when I was thinking of a topic to use as an example in the “made-up scenario” section, I took advantage of this technique. I thought to myself: “Well, I know Kubernetes. What was the last challenging thing I dealt with? Oh yeah, it was a database migration. Humm, how can I fuse these two together?”. Be cautious, though; sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we’re not in a creative mood. Pushing it just makes it harder and harder to actually do something. Just chill and let the time do its job.
Improvise, adapt and overcome
Last but not least, there are going to be a lot of issues and problems to come up with an idea to write about, or with the process of writing it, or with the final draft of the document. But these must not stop us from going forward. I am constantly amazed by how much growth someone can achieve just by sustaining a habit of subtle practice. And by subtle practice, I mean just start doing it, monitor and measure yourself, change accordingly and repeat the whole process. Or in other words, “Improvise, adapt and overcome.”.
What you read till now was itself a start to practicing “Improvise, adapt and overcome.”. I wrote this as a public note to self. I’m going to reread it, again and again, to keep moving forward no matter how hard the challenges are. Although these are my challenges and my solutions to it, it may help you as well to start doing whatever you wish to do.
I’d be super glad to discuss it furthermore. If you’re up for it, leave me a comment below.